Skip Navigation

Three Strategies for Community Justice

Tres estrategias de justicia comunitaria

Pepe and Maria traveled from El Salvador to Tijuana, Mexico. fleeing from a context where their nephew had been recruited by a drug cartel and their sister had been raped. They felt confident that their daughter was next. In 2018, before making it to the border, where they expected to seek asylum in the United States, they were illegally detained by the municipal police of Tijuana. The then-mayor had ordered the deportation of “migrants with poor behavior”.

This pattern of events is all too common in Tijuana. As of September 2022, Mexico had received 86,621 refugee applications from Central America and other countries, 2,768 of which were submitted in Baja California.

Alma Migrante, an organization working to guarantee migrants’ access to justice, led the case 1597/2018, which demonstrated that the local police turning in migrants for deportation to the migratory authorities is illegal in Tijuana. When authorities accept and maintain this illegal practice, they violate the right of access to information to know that this common interaction between the police and the migrants is actually illegal.

Although migratory authorities have informed that this resolution ended this illegal practice, in 2022 we are still receiving cases from Jamaican migrants that prove that the opposite is true.

A local community of defenders announce the definitive victory of Alma Migrante, A.C. in the litigation 1597/2018 in front of the constitutional courts of the city of Tijuana, Mexico.PHOTO: Credit: Alma Migrante

Alma Migrante, in collaboration with experts in e-justice and legal tech from ÏO Justice and local community advocacy groups, has fought against this interaction between the municipal police and migratory authorities, using citizen and community participation through open justice and artistic practices, such as:

  1. Using art to raise awareness on citizen rights. Rick Pozas D’s comic strip “Tijuana’s protection” was jointly developed with Alma Migrante, ÏO Justice, and Colectivo 1597 to raise public awareness on law through art.
  2. Using theater to engage the public. The scenic collective Seres Comunes developed a participatory process called “Salas de Urgencia”, which involves setting up a theatrical production for local hosts, and engaging the public in the design of the play. “Bienvenido, Bienhallado” is a play developed by artists from the Compañia del Sotano, whose script is co-written by playwrights Alfonso Cárcamo, Zoe Mendez and the people of Tijuana horizontally.
  3. Gathering and analyzing data on police abuse. ÏO Justice created a prototype of a platform for data collection and processing to gather evidence on actual events and shared it with Colectivo 1597Tj to support their monitoring efforts around citizen-police interactions.

Using these and other approaches, we seek to build an informed citizenry who can exercise their right to participation and contribute to a better understanding of how authorities must interact with the migrant population.

We are calling on government cooperation through the joint use of tools toward including the culture of rulings in the border culture, co-designing tools to document cases, and opening data through interoperability and technology transfer. We also seek collaboration with legal associations across the country and even the Federal Public Ombudsman to replicate the successes of Baja California’s courts in other Mexican cities.

If you want to collaborate and be part of this community effort, write to us at and to schedule a meeting and shape your proposals to continue weaving networks of open justice. In addition to forming collaborative networks, in particular, support in our communication, funding and staffing efforts in Tijuana. If you would like to support us, please let us know here.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Content

Thumbnail for Arts and Culture: The Next Open Government Frontier Challenges and Solutions

Arts and Culture: The Next Open Government Frontier

You probably don’t associate open government with the arts very often, but they are more connected than you think. Their relationship usually manifests through initiatives...

Thumbnail for Broken Links

Broken Links

How can open data help shine a light on political corruption and make political systems fairer and more inclusive? How can we further link people and data to create a…

Thumbnail for Voices of Open Government

Voices of Open Government

How do we do government differently? Listen to conversations with leaders who break the mold and fight for accountability and transparency in government on our new podcast.

Open Government Partnership